Parents often make children believe that their parents are more intelligent than they are, according to new research.
The results suggest that the assumption of intelligence can be mistaken, says study author Lenny Kravitz.
A new study published in Psychological Science found that the average number of words a child needs to understand an information presented to them by a parent is not significantly different between children with and without parents.
But a child who is exposed to more than one parent could end up learning more information about a given subject than a child whose parents only talked to them about one topic.
The researchers used data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to track how many words children had to learn about each subject.
They also asked children how many times they had to hear parents talk about a subject before they could understand the information.
“It was clear that children are more likely to need more information from their parents if they’re with multiple adults in the home, than if they’ve only been exposed to one parent,” says lead author Lizzie Rabinovitz, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
“We also found that this effect held even if children were raised by two different parents.”
The researchers also looked at how parents talk to their children.
They found that children who are raised by one parent and who have both parents with the same level of education were significantly more likely than those raised by both parents to say they could “understand” their own information.
In other words, children who had both parents speak to them at a similar level were more likely, on average, to understand what their parents said.
This is a finding that is consistent across cultures and suggests that a person’s cognitive abilities are related to how much time they spend with them.
The authors of the study hope that their findings could help parents and other caregivers make better decisions about what to do with children, or in some cases, to just get rid of them altogether.
“Children are not only less likely to receive the right advice about how to parent them, they are also less likely than adults to listen to their own opinions and preferences,” says Rabinowitz.
“This is especially true when parents have different interests and different goals.”
A new wave of research into the cognitive abilities of children and adults is expected to be released in the coming months.
One of the most exciting areas of research will be on the cognitive skills of children, and how they may relate to learning.
“What’s happening in our research is that we are trying to understand how children’s brains work and how to help them develop the cognitive capacity to make good decisions and to have the best outcomes in the world,” says Kravetz.
“The future of cognitive development will be influenced by the way we approach these issues.”
This article appeared in print under the headline “No parents left behind”